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Obama Plays the Long Game on Gas Prices

President Barack Obama speaks during his visit to oil and gas production fields located on federal lands outside of Maljamar, N.M., Wednesday, March, 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

March 21, 2012

For the White House, the current gas prices wars are not about today's poll numbers. That's a losing proposition and top officials know it. When you're the "in" party when gas prices rise, you suffer. President Bush did and so, by extension, did John McCain in 2008.  When you're the "out" party, you pounce. That's what Sen. Barack Obama did before the Indiana primary against Hillary Clinton in 2008.

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told me he's lived through five previous election cycles where the "ins" and "outs" on gas prices traded places and traded blows. "It follows a very predictable pattern," Pfeiffer said.

The pattern said Pfeiffer -- who handled communications for Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. and Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, before working for Obama - goes like this: prices rise, local TV reporters do live-shots in front gas pumps, politicians give speeches in front of gas pumps, talk shows debate the issue and then, eventually, prices drop back down and the issue is forgotten....well before Election Day. "By the time people vote, it's all gone away."

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